Review: MS Jasmin
Cruise - River Cruise
14 people found this review helpful
Wanting a winter week in the sun, we decided to try a Nile Cruise. My husband is very keen on the history of Egypt, so with optional visits available to the ancient sites and temples, this seemed like an exciting opportunity to have a glimpse into the Egypt of 3,000 years ago.
We booked an All Inclusive trip with First Choice on the Jasmin, a budget priced ‘cruise’ but worth every penny. The boat was perfectly clean, though a little tired looking in places. Our cabin was bigger than the one we had on a Thomson cruise the year before, so no complaints there, the bathroom was good with a great shower, the bed was very comfortable, we had a TV in the cabin and daily maid service with regular changes of linen and towels – the towels usually shaped into all manner of different creatures!
At dinner you are shown to your table, and this is your table for the cruise. The tables seat 6, so you are with the same people every day, this might be a problem if you don’t get on with them, but 18 months later I am still in touch with the table friends we made. The buffet style lunch and dinners are announced by a hand bell being rung along the decks. Loads of food with beef, chicken and fish usually available for main meals. Various Salads, vegetables, fruits, desserts at each meal. Breakfast was cereals, toast, pastries, fresh cooked omelettes, fruit etc. Had a lunchtime barbecue one day in the sun whilst travelling, Egyptian themed meal and waiter service candlelit meal on one evening.
After dinner on the first day, there was a meeting to discuss the various trips and packages available for us during our weeks stay, and to meet our Egyptologist. We decided on a basic package of the main temples en route, a Felucca ride and an evening trip to a sound and light show at Philea. The trips set off fairly early in the morning and tended to be back at the boat for lunchtime, thereby avoiding the sun at its hottest.
The following morning we were set for our first trip to Karnak Temple with our Egyptologist, Sam. He was such an enthusiastic, knowledgeable person, so pleased he was our guide! Later in the day we visited Luxor Temple. Both of these were amazing temples and Sam shared so many facts and so much information, it was impossible not to acquire some of his enthusiasm!
The following day (and the boat still hasn’t moved at this point, we’re still in Luxor!) we were off to the West Bank and the site I had been looking forward to the most, and that’s the Valley of the Kings. It truly was one of those awesome moments just to be there. Our ticket included entrance to 3 of the tombs, and this is where a good Egyptologist helps, as Sam recommended 3 great tombs with terrific artwork to see. It is possible to see Tutenkhamen’s tomb, but there is a surcharge payable on site to go in, and most things from the tomb are actually now in the Egyptian museum in Cairo. No Cameras are allowed in the Valley of the Kings, but it is possible to get books with lots of photos in written in English and cards very reasonably priced from the sellers there. One point to make is that there are sellers at all these sites and temples, they can be quite off-putting. We felt if they just allowed you the time to browse in peace you would probably buy, but as they are quite in your face, you just tend to walk away and not bother. From the Valley of the Kings it was off to Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple – a big wow moment! Extremely impressive. Following this it was back to the boat for lunch, and then to actually set sail, and how lovely this was, because as you were sailing you got to see daily life at the edge of the Nile carrying on the same as it has for hundreds if not thousands of years.
There was some low key evening entertainment such as a belly dancer, whirling dervish, African dancers and Nubian night, though the best night by far was the Galabaya party/Egyptian night. You didn’t have to, but were encouraged to dress up in local dress (available from the shop on the boat, very reasonably priced) everyone did dress up, there were a few games etc, a great night. All drinks (locally produced) were free.
During rest of the week we visited temples at Edfu, Kom Ombo and Philea, we could have visited the damn at Aswan, but opted not to. We walked to the market here and really saw the sights (and smells) of a local market in Egypt. We had our ride on the Felucca (sailing boat) quite an experience, even in the middle of the Nile you were approached to buy local products!! Our final trip at dawn on our last day, back in Luxor, was a ride in a hot air balloon, something I have always wanted to do, and I wasn’t disappointed – even though the wind was in the wrong direction ( which only happens about 5 times a year!) and instead of flying over the Valley of the Kings, we ended up on the other side of the Nile! But still a truly wonderful experience.
One of the lovely things about a cruise like this is that the boats are relatively small so you get to know the other passengers, especially as you go out on trips as a party, it feels like you are one big group of friends.
At the end of the week you are given 2 envelopes, one for the crew and one for the Egyptologist, with suggested amounts to leave as tips, but it is up to you, nobody checks, but the suggested amounts were reasonable, and worth every penny.
This was a fantastic holiday, brilliant experience, and one I would recommend. There is a little walking, and some of the ground is uneven, but we took my 80 year old mother with us, and she coped brilliantly and thoroughly enjoyed the trip.
Next stop in my new found enthusiasm for Ancient Egypt – the Pyramids and Egyptian museum, but that will be another holiday!
14 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.